Something something racism, something something outrage, something something out of context.
During their recent set at Philadelphia's This Is Hardcore on Saturday, August 6th, Gorilla Biscuits singer Anthony "Civ" Civarelli said something racist. Or rather, something that was taken out of context by the media and various members of the hardcore/punk community.
It depends on which person you ask, really.
Below is what Civarelli (pictured above) said during their set:
"In 2016 people still have to wear shirts that say ‘Black Lives Matter’. No shit. Brown, white, yellow, black, we all fucking matter. Everybody here matters. Do not let the media, schools, institutions, influence you. We are one family, one people."
Cue high-hat count in.
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Directly following this speech was the band's performance of their song, 'Degradation', culled from their seminal release 'Start Today', a classic hardcore record that you should definitely check out if you haven't already. Here's a full album link for you if you haven't. No need to thank me. Anyway, a live video from their set with the above speech and the proceeding songs included can be found below. Watch it, or at least the first minute or so, then read on...
Okay, screw it, let's get into this op-ed. First off, that positive but slightly cheesy message about unity and everyone holding hands and singing kumbaya has been GB's shtick for years now. As it has for countless other hardcore bands over the years as well.
Yes, it probably wasn’t the smartest thing on Civ's part to say that in a public forum nowadays, let alone at a live show where words and messages can get lost in translation (i.e. because of the loud fuckers next to you or the guitarist deciding to play a riff for half a second). But this doesn’t appear to be the frontman being a flaming racist nor him silencing the Black Lives Matter movement, either. Rather it all actually seemed anti-racist.
I mean, the very first punter to stage dive during ‘Degradation’ was a woman of colour, and she didn’t seem to give a shit. She even gets up on stage a few other times throughout the above video and seems to be having the time of her fucking life! (PMA every day, people).
After all, 'Degradation' itself is about rallying against white supremacists in the hardcore community and preaches MOTHERFUCKING RACIAL UNITY TO FIGHT RACISM! Just go look at the damn lyrics if you don't believe me!
Since all of this, This Is Hardcore has also defended the band and their singer's comments, saying:
"He is a paragon in our community whose life efforts towards anti-racism, vegetarian/veganism, anti-violence has been documented for almost 30 years. He has nothing to apologize for, nor anything to make up for. How you choose to interpret his words is your perspective, the song that followed is an anti-racist song that is an anthem of antiracism."
Now, I've seen a few people online (right here and some actual debate and discussion over here) say that it wasn’t a very PC thing to say, but honestly, what do you expect from a band like Gorilla Biscuits? They are five middle aged hardcore dudes with slightly different political views to the bands, bloggers, Noisey writers, and hardcore youth of today, (pun not intended). They’re a product of their time and, like many other bands from the late 1980’s and 1990’s, they are not a product of the current digital age and this...hashtag generation.
Sure, this scenario shows that maybe Civ & Harambe's Biscuits (sorry, I couldn't resist) may be a little bit out of touch with certain PC expectations, but they definitely aren't racists and comparing them to such people is pure idiocy.
Look, I don’t fucking know! But what I do know is that we’re all idiots (finally, the headline of this article starts to kick in) and we're worse off for this having being a "thing".
The people who took this out of context and likened the singer to neo-nazis and other such groups really are idiots. I’m also an idiot for writing about this shit being taken out of context in the first damn place. Civ’s an idiot for not realising that this would have nearly always been received badly and for being somewhat out of touch, even if it may have been all "in the moment" for him up on stage that day. And all of us humans are idiots for having racism be such a dominant issue and factor in our species brief, but oh so violent history.
Hell, I'm not even a big fan of Gorilla Biscuits - they're a solid band nonetheless - I just think that this has gotten all a little out of hand and that we should all try and get our goddamn shit together! But I'm just some white guy on the Internet, so what the fuck would I know, right?
Photo credit: Justin van der Moezel.